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Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta event - San Francisco

Zack Stern

Located in San Francisco's Mission District, where the trendy mingle with the low-income (or at least cross paths), the swank Foreign Cinema is playing host to the West Coast's Halo 3 event tonight. Much like our friends out East, we've got a few open bars, lots of random milling around with other game writers, and tiny, fancy hors d'eouvres. (You know the only thing better than mini-hamburgers? Regular-sized hamburgers!)

People who got to the event early or rushed the multiplayer area after check-in landed a spot with a 360 controller and a giant HDTV. And they're still going strong, hours into the Halo 3 multiplayer beta. The rest of us (read: losers) are getting to know how many drinks it takes our neighbors before they start leaking... secrets. San Francisco has played host to several individual game events in this anniversary of E3, and the assembled crowd is a who's who of gaming dorks journalists.

Gallery: Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta Event - SF | 10 Photos

Microsoft sprinkled some Halo 3-themed goodies around this bar and restaurant, including a few close-to-life-sized Master Chief statues and Halo-based bathroom signs. (Huh, we never thought about how he does that in his suit.) Otherwise, the main event is fighting for a giant HDTV to play the beta. Like in New York, Microsoft is giving away a Halo-themed Zune to one of the lucky attendees. We also got to hold the Legendary box helmet; the inside is rectangular-shaped to fit the game discs and goodies, but we expect that it'll only take hours after the game's release before gamers hack it into a wearable -- albeit small -- helmet.

The event feels most like a down-tempo end to a long week of game events, and that's not a bad thing. Once we fight for an open controller and place on the couch, we'll post impressions of the game. And the content in this beta is the same as the current friends-and-family beta, which will also be the same as the public beta next week. You'll be able to give it a shot soon enough.

Now we're going to go back to staring at journalists who are currently playing, hoping to make them uncomfortable enough to get up. Petty, but hopefully effective.

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